Written by Skagen

Image: Ritzau Scanpix

A Russian junior officer resigned his commission after sleeping on crates of grenades for a bed and hiding his face from Ukrainians amid a growing sense of guilt. He said he didn’t want to feel like he was part of the war.

“I felt guilty”: the Russian officer fighting in Ukraine resigns his post.

The officer said he did not think much about the massive troop build-up in the west of Russia that triggered global fears for Ukraine.

The man was in Crimea when President Putin launched his further invasion of Ukraine. He and his comrades were unaware of the invasion and were ordered to go to Ukraine two days later.

The Russian officer told CNN that many men did not understand the goal of the mission and that he had hoped for a diplomatic solution.

A soldier remembers driving over the border in a long column of vehicles and seeing piles of destroyed equipment and boxes of Russian dry rations scattered everywhere. A man with a whip screamed and whipped the convoy, and the soldier felt embarrassed.

The Russians came under heavier attack on the second or third day they were in Ukraine. Several times the shells fell very close.

The officer told CNN that he was not the only soldier concerned or confused about why they had been sent to invade Ukraine. Some perked up when they learned that combat bonuses would soon be paid.

The officer said his resolve hardened to the point where he could only resign. He said the commander initially rejected his resignation, but he stood his ground and wrote his resignation there and then.

Many soldiers and officers have refused to fight in the Russian army, with the main reasons being moral and psychological state, and moral convictions. Some commanders might try to intimidate soldiers into not writing resignation reports.

Melnikova told CNN there are many cases of Russian soldiers refusing to fight in Ukraine, but declined to give details. Aleksei Tabalov, a human rights activist, said 30 more soldiers refused to fight.

Going absent without leave from the Russian army is a criminal offense punishable by prison sentences. However, soldiers under contract have a legal right to resign within 10 days of leaving service with an explanation for the motive for their departure.